How to Identify Your Target Audience

Ever found yourself lost in a sea of brands, wondering how some manage to grab your attention while others fade into the background?

Well, the power of the buying process is now firmly in the hands of consumers, and for you to stand out, you must craft personalized experiences that resonate with your ideal audience. For you to do this, you will need to understand who your ideal audiences are. 

In this blog, we’ll delve into the essence of a target audience, understand its nuances, and navigate the steps to discover yours to create personalized experiences that drive results and growth. 

Let’s take a look.

What Is a Target Audience?

Your target audience is the specific group of consumers most likely to be interested in your product or service. 

This group is the prime audience for your advertising campaigns and can be defined by various factors such as age, gender, income, location, and interests. 

The scope of your target audience may range from broad to niche, depending on the nature of your product or service.

For instance, a shoe vendor might have a broad target audience encompassing men, women, and children, while a vendor specializing in high-performance running shoes may have a more niche audience—elite athletes aged 20-40 with a keen interest in running.

Defining and segmenting your target audience is crucial for tailoring creative messaging that resonates and choosing the right channels to connect.

Examples of a Target Audience

Think of target audiences as clusters around shared interests—men, women, teenagers, or children, united by common pursuits like reading, running, or soccer. 

Personas become invaluable and will guide you when exploring relevant advertising strategies.

The Benefits of Knowing Your Target Audience

Understanding your target audience shouldn’t just be a marketing formality; but the bedrock of every marketing plan and strategy. 

For instance, if you air an ad during the Super Bowl, that might seem like a broad visibility play, but if only a quarter of the viewers are interested in your product, it becomes a wasted effort. 

Knowing where your target audience resides—whether it’s in certain publications, online platforms, or specific shows—enables you to achieve a higher marketing return on investment (ROI).

Beyond boosting ROI, understanding your target audience allows for relationship-building and effective communication.

Once you understand your target audience, you can craft creative content tailored to specific personas, align your brand with their values, and embrace the expectation for personalized interactions. 

This works all the time because a whopping 80 per cent of consumers prefer brands offering such engagements.

What Are the Types of Target Audiences?

Target audiences can further be segmented based on interests, purchase intention, subcultures, and more.

When you break down your audience into specific categories, it enhances your ability to create data-driven, highly personalized messaging that fosters brand loyalty.

 Let’s take a look at examples of ways that you can break up your target audience:


Separate groups out based on their various interests, including hobbies and entertainment preferences. This can help you make data-driven, highly personalized messaging that allows you to connect with your audience in meaningful ways that can help drive brand loyalty.

Purchase Intention

Define groups of people who are looking for a specific product, such as a new entertainment system or car. This will help you understand your audience’s pain points so you can create tailored messaging that addresses their needs.


Subcultures refer to groups of people who share a common experience, such as music genres or entertainment fandoms. By understanding some of your target audience’s motivations, you can better understand who you’re trying to connect with.

The Difference Between Target Audience and Target Market

At some point, you might have used target market and target audience interchangeably. 

I have. But there is a difference between the two.

The target market is the people you create your product for. While target audience is the people who have the buying power to pay for your products.

E. G. – let’s say you offer staff training to employees of companies. Your target market Is the employees because they are the ones to experience your product/service.

However, your target audience is the CEO, manager, or decision-maker who has the buying power to pay for it. These are the people to show your advertising materials.

Another typical example is diapers. The target market is babies. But babies cannot pay you. Parents (especially mothers) in this case will be your target audience.

Also, there are situations where both the Target audience and target market are the same. A typical example would be when you’re trying to sell a coaching program to a business owner who needs help with their business. The end user and buyer in this case are the same.

Understanding both your target market and target audience is very crucial for business growth and sustainability.

You need to understand your target market to create products and services that serve them to build retention

You need to understand your target audience to create marketing campaigns that bring them in through the door and/or also move them through your value ladder.

In essence, you create for the target market and sell to the target audience

If your target market doesn’t like your products, then your target audience may not come back.

Understanding the Roles of Your Target Audience And Target Market

An important step in understanding your target audience and target market is to go beyond learning their demographic information and understand what role they play in the path to purchase. 

These roles can often be divided into the following categories:

The Decision Maker: The decision maker also referred to as the target audience is the person who ultimately makes the purchase decision. In some cases, the decision-maker is the same as the supporter, but in other cases they are different. When different, you must acknowledge this and gear ads to the decision-maker.

Take, for example, the transformation of the Old Spice brand in 2010. The brand wanted to revamp its product to appeal to a younger generation. While researching, the team discovered that while men may ultimately wear their product, women were making the purchases, leading their creative team to focus on this target audience.

The Supporter: The supporter also known as the target market, may not have the power to make the decision, but they will have a heavy influence on whether or not your product or service is bought. For example, a child may not directly make a purchase, but if they want something for Christmas, they influence that decision. This is why it is important to develop messaging that speaks to consumers in both of these roles.

7 Ways to Determine Your Target Audience

To determine your target audience, you must spend time analyzing the data you receive from consumer engagements, evaluating current buyers and purchase trends, and optimizing as new information is revealed.

The following steps should help you realize your target audience:

1. Analyze Your Customer Base and Carry Out Client Interviews

One of the best ways to determine your target audience is to look at who already buys your product or service. How old are they, where do they live, what are their interests? A good way to learn this is through engaging on social or distributing customer surveys or even incentivizing your audience to get them on a call with you. 

Interviews, surveys, polls, and Q&A sessions are very effective ways to achieve this.

2. Conduct Market Research and Identify Industry Trends

Look at the market research for your industry to identify what your target audience is leaning more toward and determine where there are loopholes that your product(s) or services(s) can fill or ways that you can tweak what is already in the market to better serve your audience. 

Look at trends for similar products/services to see where they are focusing efforts, then hone in further on your product’s unique value. 

YouTube, Google Trends, Quora, Reddit, and Nairaland (for the Nigerian market) are good places to look. 

3. Analyze Competitors

You can learn a lot by looking at your competitors to see who they are commonly selling to, and how they go about it. Are they using online or offline channels? Are they focusing on the decision-maker or the supporter?

Looking at their social media, funnels, and marketing campaigns can give you insights into some of these. 

4. Create Personas

Creating personas is a great way to drill down into the specific segments that make up your target audience. 

This is especially helpful if you have a product that appeals to a wide range of consumers. Personas allow you to determine the general demographics, personalities, and needs of your target consumers. 

The persona of “Fran First-Time Runner” will speak to different needs than “Sam Seasoned Pro.” 

Personas are created based on data, surveys, digital engagements, and any other information you can pull from to give a more complete view of the buyers. 

This might include favourite hobbies, television shows, publications, etc. It is recommended that marketers develop between three and five personas.

Personas should describe your audience in different human forms and traits that represent their individual goals and buying behaviours. 

See persona samples below. You can create this for 3 – 5 personas. 

Image by Wondershare Edraw on Pinterest

5. Define Who Your Target Audience Isn’t

Not everyone is your ideal buyer. There will certainly be buyers who are close to your target demographic, but who will not act on your messaging. 

Try to be specific in determining who your audience is and who it isn’t. Is your demographic women, or women between the ages of 20 and 40? 

Knowing this will keep your teams from devoting ad dollars to segments that will not yield returns.

6. Continuously Revise

As you gather more data and interact with customers, you will get an increasingly accurate understanding of your target audiences. Based on this information, you must constantly optimize and hone personas to achieve the best results.

7. Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics offers extensive data about the users visiting your site. This information can be leveraged to determine key insights such as what channels your target audience is coming from or what type of content they’re engaging and connecting with the most, allowing you to make more data-driven decisions during the media planning process.

How to Create Target Personas with The Right Demographics

We’ve already established that creating personas can be another great way to understand audiences. Market research paired with client interviews can give you better insights into what your clients read, think, and value. This offers an important understanding of which sources your audience uses and trusts. When building these out, consider using the following demographics and identifiers:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Hobbies
  • Income
  • Education level
  • Profession
  • Marital status
  • Who they trust
  • What they read/watch
  • Your current customer base
  • Who your competitors are targeting
  • What are their challenges?
  • What keeps them up at night as it relates to your product/service?
  • What are their desires and goals for wanting to use your product/service?, etc. 

How to Reach Your Target Audience

Once you’ve created personas, the next step is to find media that targets these specific segments. Below are some tools to get you started:

Social Media

Social media allows you to target ads based on various demographics and interests. Although the audience can be exact, different demographics consume media differently. Some users may not be receptive to business-related ads on Instagram but may respond more positively on Facebook. It is also important to measure the success of different types of ads on these platforms – like display versus native. Test various platforms to see what drives results.

Third-Party Information

Marketing analytics platforms such as the Marketing Measurement and Attribution Platform can help you identify what outlets your target audiences frequent or what television shows they watch. When selecting a partner, investigate how these companies identify how to reach the target audiences. Are they using outdated data or do they have media partnerships?

How to Reach Your Audience at the Right Time

When marketing to today’s empowered consumers, it is not only about knowing where to reach them but also when to reach them. As consumers become more adept at tuning messaging out, marketing at the right moment will pay dividends.  

There are several important considerations to ensure right-time marketing across various channels:


With the invention of DVR, viewers no longer have to sit through commercials. This means that even with the right target audience, you can’t necessarily guarantee views on commercials shown in the middle of any show’s break. When negotiating television slots, focus on either being the first commercial before a break or the last one at the end of a break. Even better is live television (including the late-night news or sporting events). Since these are live, it’s guaranteed that more people are watching at the moment rather than pressing the fast-forward button.


Since listeners often switch radio stations at a commercial break, make sure to book ads at either the beginning of the break or the end if possible. Also, be sure to pay attention to DMAs (Designated Market Areas). DMAs are provided by Nielsen and are based on signal strength. It is important to keep this in mind, because although radio is a great way to reach local consumers, it may also include listeners outside your target region.


Timing matters with emails. consider sending emails on non-traditional days for higher open rates.

Disadvantages of Target Audiences

Although target audiences are a great tool, one drawback is the limited reach that comes with targeting specific segments. When you narrow down the target audience, you can miss out on the advantage of opportunities to attract customers from other demographics who could still have an interest in your offerings. Combining target audiences with analytics tools can help identify some of these missed opportunities to further capitalize on them.


Mastering the identification and understanding of your target audience is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. It involves a nuanced understanding of your customers, competitors, and industry trends. By creating detailed personas, utilizing data-driven insights, and employing the right media at the right time, you can build lasting connections with your target audience. In a dynamic marketplace, where consumer preferences evolve, staying attuned to your audience ensures the adaptability and success of your marketing endeavors.

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